Preceding and following statements of our nation’s military leadership and Canada’s military leadership of defending North America in their public remarks at the NORTHCOM NORAD change of Command yesterday in Colorado Springs, MDAA hosted and led a Hypersonic Missile Defense Forum on Friday in Colorado Springs.
This forum was attended by experts, experienced military leaders, academia, industry, congressional staff and American Citizens from the Colorado Springs community. Representative Doug Lamborn, Subcommittee Chairman for Strategic Forces for the House Arms Service Committee and the local Colorado Springs 5th District United States Congressional Representative spoke, participated and listened to the entirety of the Forum. Three former 4 star United States Generals and former Secretary of the Air Force were in attendance and participating. Our Panel consisted of MG Brian Gibson, Brig. Gen. Robert Davis, and Mr. Walter S. Chai and moderated by MDAA Board of Directors Mark Montgomery.
Former Vice Chief Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General (ret.) John Hyten set the understanding and intent of the Hyper Sonic Missile Defense challenge our nation faces. We put forth below his entire presentation to our Forum last Friday in Colorado Springs.
“There are lessons in this history, important lessons about how we as a country have screwed up the entire process, not just hypersonics. So DARPA had a program, I think it was called Hypersonic Test Vehicle, HTV-1 and HTV-2. HTV-1, 2007. HTV-2 I think was 2009. The thing about HTV-1 is the first flight failed. It flew, but it hit a certain point in the trajectory. You’re talking about the hypersonic glide vehicle at this point. So it’s going straight level, it’s going hypersonic. The heat and vibration caused a failure of the flight mechanism and it broke up in flight. A failure. All right, so what does this nation do in 2007 when you have a failure? Congress forms committees to investigate why we had a failure, the Department of Defense forms committees to figure out why we have a failure, and we stopped for two years doing anything while we figure it out. Then we figure out that one problem, which oh by the way, the engineers knew on day two. All right, but we took two years to figure it out and then we go back and test again and we fail again. All right?
Because we failed twice, Congress kills the program. That’s ridiculous. One of my favorite stories, probably one of General Shelton’s favorite stories too, is the story of Corona and Discover. So my favorite painting in the Pentagon is a painting this big. It used to be on the A ring of the eighth corridor. They moved it. I asked Salty where they put it and he doesn’t know, but we’re going to find it because that needs to be somewhere in the Pentagon. It was this little picture of a nighttime launch of a little rocket and the little plaque on the bottom said, Discover 13. Discover 13. Why is that my favorite painting? The question is, what happened to Discover 1 through 12? All failures. All failures. Discover 13 carried the first Corona satellite, the spy satellite, to space that delivered imagery of what was really going on in the Soviet Union, critical at the time. Why is that my favorite painting? Because Discover 13, the success was 18 months after Discover 1, 12 failures in 18 months. That’s actually how you go fast.
That’s how North Korea goes fast. That’s how China goes fast. We form congressional committees and study, why did we fail? We failed because it didn’t work. For God’s sakes, fix it and make it work. That’s all you have to do. So let me take you back now to my last year as Vice Chairman, July 27th, 2021. I’m about to do something that you should never do in a speech. I’m going to read my own quotes. That’s like the dumbest thing to do in a speech, but I’m going to do it because, well, I’ll tell you why. So July 27th, 2021, I’m sitting in my office. That was a very significant time because we were actually coming out of Bagram and when we made the decision to come out of Bagram, we were out of Afghanistan completely. You could tell that it was just going to break apart. August turned into a horrible month. But July 27th, we’re sitting there, all those things going on, phone rings in my office because I get notified of all launches that happen anywhere in the world.”
-General (Ret.) John Hyten, Hypersonic Missile Defense Forum, February 2, 2024
Click here to read General Hyten’s full speech
“We are working on this. We’re trying to get the Pentagon united and really working together, all pulling in the same direction on this.
-Congressman Doug Lamborn, Hypersonic Missile Defense Forum, February 2, 2024
“We step back a little bit and look what happened about 40 plus years ago, I was a sophomore on a football scholarship at USC and Ronald Reagan was running for president. And Ronald Reagan came here, came here to Cheyenne Mountain, with his team, Edward Teller, and they went in the mountain and they asked, “Where is the defense?” And that moved critical academic thinking and mass thinking on how to put forward a defensive capability against the ICBMs at the height of the Cold War. And you have to remember back then we were restricted by an ABM treaty in 1972 that was limiting, but we also as a country had policy not to deploy anything. So we had no policy to deploy that capability. We had a public that didn’t clearly understand the issue or were misinformed of the issue “Star Wars” , and we had a public that said, “This is impossible technology to do, to shoot an ICBM down. Impossible.” And if it was impossible, the cost of this was outrageous.
And so that type of thinking, and back then it was partisan, so we put ourselves today where we now have a hypersonic glide threat to this country and to regions around the world. And we were facing the same arguments, the same issues, as we faced 40 years ago, and we cannot wait like 40 years ago. It took us 20 years to be able to get policy, to be able to put a limited capability in and to educate our public. We cannot choose not to defend our US Homeland from Hyper Sonic Glide threats and yet choose to defend Guam which is US Homeland, Aircraft Carrier Battle groups and regions forward from Hyper Sonic Glide threats, And I would say 100% that our public would demand having defense against hypersonic glide.”
-Riki Elison, Chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, Hypersonic Missile Defense Forum, February 2, 2024